BIRDING WORCESTER COUNTY
MOUNT WATATIC: A good place to view Hawk migration in the spring or fall. Access to the summit is only by foot, as there is no summit road.
LEESVILLE POND: This pond also enters into Worcester. One of the best places near Worcester to view waterfowl. Uncommon dabbling ducks such as Blue-winged Teal, Green Winged Teal, Pintail and Gadwall have regularly been seen here. Pied billed Grebe, Hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Ring-necked Duck are also regular. American Wigeon build up high numbers in the late summer and early fall. One of the best places in the County where Black-crowned Night Heron make appearances. In 1999 a Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron made an appearance and was observed by many.
Waterfowl can be good especially in the fall with large numbers of both species of Teal, American Wigeon, Wood Duck (nest here), Pied-billed Grebe, and Hooded Merganser.
DARK BROOK RESERVOIR: One of the largest lakes in southern Worcester County, diving ducks are what you are looking for here. Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck, and Ruddy Duck have all been seen here. Keep an eye out for a winter gull as well. Spring Warbler migration is also fairly productive. The best place to look for warblers is the path to the right of Randall School which winds itís way behind the school to an extension of the Reservoir.
WORCESTER STORM WATER DIVERSION AREA: Located off Southbridge St. It quite a productive wetland . Itís waters fall into a tunnel and is carried beneath and through Pakachoag Hill before emptying out into the Blackstone River. Look for Wood Duck and other dabblers during spring and fall migraton and warblers during spring. Bank and Rough-winged Swallows have been seen in migration near the tunnel .
EDDY POND: Another productive waterfowl spot with Common Merganser and Ring-necked Duck common. Best areas are on the south side of the pond but difficult to view due to relative inaccessability.
AUBURN LANDFILL: Now closed and capped, this area is surprisingly productive for grassland birds. Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobolink, and Savannah Sparrow are all regular here. The top of the landfill gives a commanding view of the surrounding landscape.
BARRE LANDFILL: Winter is a good season to check out this landfill for some gull watching. Both Glaucous and Iceland Gulls have been found amongst the hundreds of Herring, Ring-billed and Greater Black-backed.
BOLTON FLATS WILDLIFE MANAGENENT AREA: This is one of the premiere inland birding spots in the State. This area is cited in the American Birding Associationís "A Birding Guide to Eastern Massachusetts". Springtime brings dabbling ducks such as Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Wood Duck and American Widgeon. One of the few areas where Hooded Merganser has nested in the State. Virginia Rails are regular as well as one of possibly 3 places in Central Mass where Sora can regularly be found. Shorebirds appear in the flooded fields in Spring. Large numbers of Common Snipe appear here. Shorebird rarities have included Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Ruff, and Hudsonian Godwit. In Autumn, the weedy fields produce good numbers of sparrows. Harrisí Sparrow, Clay-Colored Sparrow, Dickcissel, Lark Sparrow, and Nelsonís Sharp-Tailed Sparrow have all appeared here. In late fall American Pipits frequent the open fields. In winter, be on the lookout for a Rough-legged Hawk or a Northern Shrike which make regular appearances. **WARNING: This area in Autumn is a pretty productive hunting spot starting with stocked Ring-necked Pheasant in October and continuing with waterfowl season through early winter, so be careful.
TOWER HILL BOTANIC GARDENS: The plants and flowers here rival the birds as a reason to visit this spot! This is a real gem in Central Massachusetts. Spring and fall brings numbers of warblers and other songbirds appear in the woodlands below the gardens. Check out the bird feeders along the trail. You may find something interesting. Connecticut Warbler has been found here. The top of Tower Hill at the Visitor Center gives a commanding view northwest to the Wachusett Region and is a relaxing place to view hawk migration in the Fall. You can even dine at the outside café as you watch hawks migrate by.
WACHUSETT RESERVOIR: Another premiere spot in Massachusetts, the Reservoir is another place mentioned in the ABAís "A Birderís Guide to Eastern Massachusetts". The view from the end of Scar Hill Rd gives a commanding view of the Reservoir. A drive to the end of Temple St gives you
a look into South Bay and Flagg Cove where you may find good numbers of diving ducksÖ.
(see also West Boylston, Sterling and Clinton).
QUABOAG WMA: This section of Quaboag River is and excellent place for waterfowl inthe spring and fall. This is one of the few places in Central Mass where you can reliably pick up both Virginia and Sora Rail, and a great spot to see American Bittern. It is one of the only places in the County to look for Marsh Wren. From Rte 9 take 148 South and park at a small lot just before the river on the right side of the road. Proceed down the railroad track pathway on the right side. You will see extensive marshes as you look to your left down the tracks.
QUACUMQUASIT POND (SOUTH POND): Another excellent place to view waterfowl. In 1998 12 Tundra Swan made a brief appearance on the pond before heading south.
WACHUSETT RESERVOIR: As previously mentioned, this is truly a premiere spot for birding in Central Massachusetts. Here, waterfowl, grebes and loons are the birds you are looking for in both spring and fall. The best location to view birds is at Clinton Dike on the western shore of Wachusett. The Dike gives you the most expansive view of the Reservoir. American Wigeon, Scoters, Oldsqaw, American Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Redhead, and both Scaup have all been reported here. This is the best place in central Massachusetts to see Red-throated Loon and Red-necked Grebe. Horned Grebe are also regular. Also of note is this Reservoir is the southernmost location in North America where Common Loons nest. Scope out the Dike in late summer to see if you can find adult loons and their young. Another location to view birds is from Clinton Dike on Route 70 on the eastern side. You may have to look a bit, the birds may be a bit far to view with binoculars. A spotting scope is in order here.
COACHLACE POND: A very good place to view diving ducks. Common and Hooded Merganser, Ring-necked Duck, both species of Scaup, and Ruddy Duck have all been found here in good numbers. For a number of years a Tufted Duck has appeared with some Greater Scaup at this pond.
QUABOAG POND: An excellent place for waterfowl in spring and fall. Many of the uncommon species can be found here. Lately, Bald Eagles have been found wintering here.
FISHERVILLE POND: This pond has itís resident Mute Swans. An excellent pond to view puddle ducks.
OXBOW NWR: A pretty small access area makes up for a nice variety of bird species. Another "hotspot" listed in the ABA "Birderís guide to Eastern Massachusetts" written by Mark Lynch. The approach road has a nice mix of grassland species. Bobolink, Meadowlark, Savannah Sparrow all can be found here. The parking lot is one of the best places to bird in the entire Refuge. This Refuge is one of the best places to find Yellow-throated Vireo. Other Vireos such as Warbling, Red-eyed, Blue-headed, and Philadelphia (BOTH Spring and Fall) have all been found. Orioles, Cuckoos, and Warblers are all found in good numbers.
FRUITLANDS OVERLOOK: A spectacular view of Mt Wachusett and the surrounding area greets the observer here. This is an alternative hawkwatch spot in the Fall.
QUINIPOXET RESERVOIR: This is one of the City of Worcesterís drinking water sources. It also happens to be one of the best places to view shorebirds in low rain years. This is one of the first reservoirs in the City water system to be drawn down. Please respect the Cityís wishes of restricted access. Do not walk beyond the fence at the end of the road. It is possible to view the Reservoir from road end.
TROUT BROOK RESERVATION: A beautiful spot to watch warblers and other landbirds. Check the many streams crisscrossing the reservation for both species of Waterhrushes.
BOLTON FLATS WMA: See writeup under Bolton.
LAKE SINGLETARY: Most of the Lake has a developed shoreline, so access is limited. One of the few places to look is from the boat ramp on West Main St. Diving ducks such as Bufflehead, Goldeneye and both inland Mergansers can be found in migration.
HODGES VILLAGE DAM ACE: This wetland area was created in the 1950ís after Hurricane Diana flooded the French River watershed and destroyed many of the lowland homes in the area. Some homes were taken by eminent domain. You can still see some cellarholes and a few of the abandoned roadways. The area has many marshes along the course of the River through town. Many marsh birds can be regularly seen. Common Moorhen and American Bittern have been recorded. The marshes are an excellent place to call in a Virginia Rail. Flycatchers are also quite common here- Great Crested, Acadian, Olive-sided, and Yellow-bellied have all been recorded, and Willow, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Wood Pewee and Eastern Kingbird breed here. Warbler migration can be quite good at times with large numbers of Yellow-rumped, Palm and Blackpoll moving through. Breeding warblers include Yellow, Common Yellowthroat,American Redstart, Chestnut-sided, Pine, Blue-winged and Black-and White. Both Louisiana and Northern Waterthrush occur here. You can find both Bank and Northern Rough-winged Swallow breeding here. The latter use culvert holes in Hodges Villlage Dam. Waterfowling is also good. Dabblers are quite common, with Wood Duck breeding in many of the boxes erected for their behalf by the Hodges Village Educational Association, the volunteer assistance group for this area. Swamp Sparrow are common breeders in the marches throughout. All three mimic thrushes are prevalent here, with Brown Thrasher common, and Gray Catbird abundant. Best access points are along Rte 12 at Rocky Hill Rd, where one can walk south toward the Dam, or north through the town transfer station toward some remote swamp and marsh areas- behind Oxford High School, taking you closer to the wooded swamp and marshes while avoiding the transfer station and through the Town of Oxfordís Greenbrier Park, the northern border of the Army Corps property. Another access point is at the Hodges Village Dam area itself. This is located on Howarth Rd off Charton Rd which in turn is located off Rte 12. This leaves you at the southern boundary of the property. Trail maps are available here at the parking lot kiosk.
QUABBIN RESERVOIR: Excellent information can be found in the ABA Guide for Eastern Mass written by Mark Lynch. The many gates on the eastern side offer countless birding opportunities.
MAS DOR STATE FOREST: This is one of the best places to look for Northern Saw-whet Owl. Also, the stream along the forest road as you enter the park is an excellent place to search for both Waterthrushes. This forest is also listed in the ABA guide.
MAS WACHUSETT MEADOW WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: This sanctuary is pretty diverse, both in bird species and habitat. In the grasslands surrounding the main buildings look for the resident population of Bobolink. Barn Swallows nest in the main barn. Recent beaver activity has expanded the swamp beyond the lower meadow and Great Blue Herons have established a pretty substantial rookery there. Warblers are plentiful in both migration and during the breeding season. The Forbush Bird Club has performed a breeding bird survey here over a number of years.
WACHUSETT MT STATE RESERVATION: Probably nowhere in the State is as good as Wachusett during the hawk migration of beginning in September. It is listed in the ABA guide to Eastern Massachusetts. The Eastern Mass Hawk Watch has established a hawk watch site at the summit for a number of years. Check the tote board in September for daily totals. Better yet, stay for an hour or two and help as another set of eyes. In addition to the Hawks, check itís lower trails for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Winter Wren. In the spruce forest just below the summit, Dark-eyed Juncos breed. Itís about as far south in the county you can count on them during the summer months.
ROYALSON CENTER: In flight years, the town center usually has Pine Grosbeaks. Check the feeders on the north side of the common for Evening Grosbeak, Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll. One of the best locations for Bohemian Waxwings in flight years.
.TULLY DAM ACE: Tully Lake (formed by the impoundment of Tully River) is an excellent location for diving Ducks. Ring Necked Duck, and both Hooded and Common Mergansers can be found in good numbers.
LAKE QUINSIGAMOND: An excellent place to view waterfowl during the winter. Common and Hooded Merganser, Ring-necked Duck. And other divers have been found here. American Coot, Redhead, and Canvasback are uncommon migrants on the lake. Mute Swans nest here, Tundra Swans have appeared here.
SUDBURY RESERVOIIR: This reservoir is known for itís Autumn buildup of Ring-necked Ducks, Common Merganser, and Ruddy Duck. Access is best on White & Bagley Road.
WASHACUM PONDS: These ponds are a good place to view diving ducks. Good numbers of both species of Scaup are regularly found on these ponds. A worthwhile visit if you are birding Wachusett Reservoir.
STERLING PEAT: This is a great spot to find something unusual. Bank Sallows have established a colony in the sand mound on the right as you walk toward the water. The autumn olive on the right hillside usually attracts a large number of American Robin in late Fall and Winter. In flight years, this is good place to search for Northern Shrike.
WACHUSETT RESERVOIR: See Boylston and Clinton listings
BLACKSTONE HERITAGE STATE PARK: Best Access here is Voss Farm on Oak St. Good birding in the early morning along the canal towpath and in the open field behind. One of the best places in Worcester County to view Orchard Oriole. The birds are usually just past the bridge on the opposite side of the towpath or near the farmhouse itself. A Western Kingbird made an appearance flycatching in one of the large trees in the open field. Careful during pheasant hunting season. The field is stocked.
RICE CITY POND: A nice assortment of waterfowl in spring and fall. Osprey have been seen in the autumn. A Eurasian Wigeon was spotted a few years back here giving Worcester County is first record of this species.
WACHUSETT RESERVOIR: See listings under Clinton, Boylston and Sterling.
SUASCO IMPOUNDMENT: A nice place to view both puddle and diving ducks. The impoundment has given Worcester County itís only breeding pair of Osprey over the past few years.
WACHUSETT STATE RESERVATION: See listing under Princeton
MAS BROAD MEADOW WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: Nowhere in Central Massachusetts has itís flora and fauna been as well studied as this Mass Audubon Sanctuary. It is a green gem in an urban setting. Many bird species normally found in more rural areas appear regularly here. Migration and breeding bird surveys have been done for a number of years and are ongoing. Whether you are a beginning birder or an expert, this is the place to get involved.
INDIAN LAKE : One of the more productive bodies of water in the City. Diving ducks can be quite plentiful here. Most of the species of waterfowl have been recorded here. One of the very few inland Massachusetts records of King Eider has been noted not too long ago, and the first inland record of Roseate Tern was recorded here.
INSTITUTE PARK and POND: A surprising place to find birds considering you are practically in the center of the Worcester. Black-crowned Night Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Green Heron, Wood Duck are all found here pretty regularly. The Pond also gets itís share of rarities: Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, and Snowy Egret have all occured here.
NOTRE DAME CEMETARY: Nowhere in Central Massachusetts is as good as this to view the Common Nighthawk migration. In August, when the flying ants have their flight, hundreds of Nighthawks can be seen feeding here. Be aware the Cemetary closes at dusk.
CURTIS POND: One of the first locations every year for Double-crested Cormorants to make their appearance. Also diving and puddle ducks are worth a check.
LEESVILLE POND: See Auburn listing
BOYNTON and CASCADES PARK: This is a beautiful park in the northwest quadrant of the City. Many of the bird species remind one of more northerly climes. Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Louisiana Waterthrush are all found in the Park. Check out the Cascades in at the eastern end of the Park while youíre here.
LAKE QUINSIGAMOND: See Shrewsbury listing